Vaping Can Increase Coronavirus Hazards, Researchers Say


Since the start of the pandemic, experts have warned that the coronavirus — a respiratory pathogen — most likely capitalizes on the scarred lungs of smokers and vapers. Doctors and researchers are now starting to pinpoint the ways in which smoking and vaping seem to enhance the virus’s ability to spread from person to person, infiltrate the lungs and spark some of Covid-19’s worst symptoms.

“I have no doubt in saying that smoking and vaping could put people at increased risk of poor outcomes from Covid-19,” said Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, a pediatric pulmonologist at Columbia University. “It is quite clear that smoking and vaping are bad for the lungs, and the predominant symptoms of Covid are respiratory. Those two things are going to be bad in combination.”

The fair posted a disclaimer on its website, warning that the coronavirus is a risk in any public place.

It is not uncommon for reports on early clinical vaccine trials to pass through peer review and get published in scientific journals after advanced trials get underway. But Mr. Putin’s headline-making announcement raised questions about exactly what evidence had led to the vaccine’s approval.

The trial was relatively small. Only 40 volunteers received the full vaccine, and no one received a placebo for comparison.

Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University who was not involved in the study, judged that the vaccine produced “good antibody levels in all volunteers.” But she added that no one yet knows what level of antibodies or immune cells are required to protect people from getting sick. “It is hard to tell whether the vaccine will be efficacious,” she said.

That is true of all Covid-19 vaccines in testing. Determine whether a vaccine is efficacious requires a so-called Phase 3 trial, in which a large number of volunteers get either a vaccine or a placebo. In their paper, the Russian scientists wrote that they got approval last week to run a Phase 3 trial on 40,000 people.

U.S. Roundup

In other news around the U.S.:

Maria Valdez, a laid-off housekeeper at the Grand Hyatt hotel in San Antonio, is scraping by with three children on a $314 weekly unemployment check. Kimber Adams, who lost her job as a bartender at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is pinning hopes on her plan to become a phlebotomist. Waldo Cabrera, let go from his job cleaning planes at the Miami airport, hopes an offer to drive a tanker truck in Texas will wait until he can move there.

All of them are eager to return to work. But with 11.5 million jobs lost since February and the government’s monthly report on Friday showing a slowdown in hiring, fear is budding many jobs will disappear permanently.

“Some law firms are finding that it is more productive for their lawyers to stay at home,” said Kristinia Bellamy, a janitor who was laid off from her job cleaning offices in Midtown Manhattan. “This might be the beginning of the end for these commercial office buildings.”

Though Israel’s mortality rate has been relatively low, that too has been rising, with coronavirus deaths now approaching 1,000 out of a population of nine million.

But some politicians and mayors have attacked a new plan by Israel’s national coronavirus project manager, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, that places 10 areas, including ultra-Orthodox and Arab localities, in full lockdown.

Shua Mansour Masarwa, the mayor of Taibe, an Arab city in central Israel set for lockdown, said Professor Gamzu had based his calculations on faulty population data. After nearly a dozen predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were also declared lockdown zones, Mayor Moshe Lion of Jerusalem said on Friday that he had still not been officially informed of any measures.

Professor Gamzu stressed that the designations were not meant to embarrass the communities but to offer the intervention and assistance they need.

In other news from around the world:

NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK ROUNDUP

Restaurants and bars in New Jersey reopened on Friday for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, and movie theaters sold tickets for the first time since March.

At an IHOP in Edison, N.J., three indoor tables were filled at lunchtime. Everyone entered wearing masks and a manager took down diners’ telephone numbers for contact tracing before seating them.

“It felt like we rented out the whole place,” Joshua Naval, 21, said after a lunch of fried steak.

“Space and boundaries,” said his friend, Sayema Bhuiyan, 20. “It was similar to before — just a little more caution.”

Nearby, at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, indoor business was brisk. (The unshaded tables outside were largely empty at midday as the temperature reached 85 degrees.)

Wayne Martiak, of Point Pleasant, N.J., said his first indoor dining experience in six months was “very comfortable.”

“We’ve tried to be very careful,” said Mr. Martiak, who was eating with his daughter and granddaughter. He said he continued to avoid crowds, and places where few people are wearing masks. “If a place isn’t right, we’re not going there,” he said.

At a news conference on Friday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy warned that restaurants that violated the state’s restrictions would be punished. “The limits we have placed on capacities and the public health protocols we have put in place are not kind suggestions,” he said. “They are required.”

The state will also indefinitely extend a ban on smoking inside the state’s casinos during the pandemic, the governor said. When casinos were allowed to reopen for gambling in July, smoking, drinking and dining remained banned over concerns that people would not wear masks indoors.

Earlier this week, public health groups criticized language in an executive order that would have allowed indoor smoking to resume.

Amid a resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe, the European Union’s executive arm recommended on Friday that the 27 member nations coordinate their approach to travel within the bloc, with the aim of simplifying movement within what used to be a borderless zone.

Although European borders have reopened this summer, travel has become increasingly complicated because of discrepancies between national measures regarding obligatory quarantine and testing, as well as different methods for classifying high-risk areas.

This week, Hungary became the first E.U. member to close its borders completely to all nonresidents, including other European citizens. Belgium, in an abrupt announcement, banned nonessential travel to a number of European regions, and imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on travelers returning from those areas, which include Paris, a one-hour train ride away. Poland, equally suddenly, banned flight connections with 44 countries, including Spain and Romania.

Meanwhile, German health authorities are considering shortening quarantine periods for those who have been in contact with patients testing positive for the coronavirus or those returning from high-risk countries to five days from 14 days currently.

The proposal made by the European Commission, which must be voted on by ministers from member nations, puts forward a coordinated system of color coding for low-, medium- and high-risk areas of the continent. The system is based on information to be provided weekly by national governments on the number of new confirmed infections, the number of tests carried out and percentage that were positive.

The European Commission also called on national governments to adopt a single set of measures for all travelers from high-risk areas, and to communicate new restrictions in advance.

“People deserve to know in which zone they are,” said Ylva Johansson, the E.U.’s home affairs commissioner. “Both citizens and businesses need to have a degree of certainty.”

But Dr. Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser of the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine and treatment initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, described getting a vaccine by late October as a “very, very low chance.”

That message ran counter to optimistic assertions from the White House that a vaccine could be ready for distribution before Election Day in November. Mr. Trump said during the Republican National Convention last week that a vaccine could be ready “before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.”

In Queens, Adriana Aviles has been holding dress rehearsals for the first day of school. Her three children wear face masks at home all day, every other day, to practice for when they return to school buildings in a few weeks.

Ms. Aviles says her children cannot wait to go back to school, and she is frustrated by the recent delay.

“We’ll get some normalcy hopefully, and God willing we’ll be OK,” she said of the return to school. “We practiced what we need to practice.”

German health authorities are considering shortening quarantine periods for those who have been in contact with patients testing positive for Covid-19 or those returning from high-risk countries to five days from 14 days currently.

“I think it is very sensible to limit the quarantine period to five days,” Karl Lauterbach, a lawmaker with the Social Democrats, the junior coalition partners in the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, told Die Welt, a daily publication.

“We know that the vast majority of people are no longer contagious five days after the onset of symptoms,” even if tests still show a positive result, said Mr. Lauterbach, who is also a medical doctor.

Mr. Lauterbach was responding to a suggestion by Christian Drosten, the country’s most influential virologist, that a shorter quarantine might be more effective than a two-week period because more people would follow it.

In late August, Ms. Merkel chided holidaymakers returning from high-risk zones for not respecting quarantine rules and announced fines and stricter controls. During that time, returning holidaymakers accounted for 40 percent of new infections, a number that has gone down in recent weeks as most Germans have returned to work.

On Tuesday, German authorities registered 1,311 new infections in 24 hours. There have been 246,948 cases in Germany so far and 9,310 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

The government has formally tasked the health ministry and the German version of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States with evaluating the safety and practicality of such a measure, a spokesperson said.

Reporting was contributed by Geneva Abdul, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Alan Blinder, Emma Bubola, Aurelien Breeden, Ben Casselman, Damien Cave, Joyce Cohen, Choe Sang-hun, Michael Gold, Rebecca Halleck, Mike Ives, Isabel Kershner, Sharon LaFraniere, Richard C. Paddock, Gaia Pianigiani, Eduardo Porter, Monika Pronczuk, Campbell Robertson, Eliza Shapiro, Christopher F. Schuetze, Katie Thomas, Tracey Tully, Julie Turkewitz, Noah Weiland, Will Wright, Jin Wu, Katherine J. Wu and Carl Zimmer.



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